Lightening creams offer the ideal solution to visibly lighten moles, birthmarks, sun spots, acne scars, and melasma. Choosing a lotion that works for your skin can be a challenge with so many different products on the market. Some even contain harmful chemicals that can cause adverse skin conditions and reactions.
To help you with your decision, we researched the best skin lightening creams available. Here, we take an in-depth look at these products and their ingredients. We focus on overall skin health to ensure lasting benefits, a radiant appearance, and faster results, no matter which product you choose.
How each product is reviewed
Each and every product mentioned on our site has been tested by one of the team members of Pierre Michel Beauty. We do not receive any sponsorship from the brands and all comments are our own. From time to time, we also refer to online reviews and include information about how other people use the products.
Hot take: Our team has spent many hours reviewing each of the products on this list, and our conclusion is that Meladerm is the best skin-lightening cream of all. Read on as we dive deeper and shed more light on each of them.
- 1 – Meladerm (Editor’s Choice)
- 2 – Obagi Medical Nu-Derm Blend Fx
- 3 – Admire My Skin Brightening Serum
- 4 – Ebanel Dark Spot Remover
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Hyperpigmentation: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Black & Dark Skin: Scientis Cyspera Cysteamine Cream
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Melasma: SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Dark Spots: Ambi Fade Cream
- Best Skin Lightening Cream for Acne Scars: Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment
- Skin Lightening Cream Buyer’s Guide
- In Conclusion: Buy The Best Skin Lightening Cream Today
1 – Meladerm (Editor’s Choice)
What Is It?
Meladerm is one of the most widely used skin-lightening creams for minimizing the appearance of dark spots and promoting an even skin tone.
If you want a cruelty-free vegan cream that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, Meladerm is one of your best options.
This product contains some of the best skin-lightening ingredients, including kojic acid, alpha arbutin, and natural extracts such as bearberry, lemon, mulberry, Emblica fruit, and licorice fruit.
Meladerm also contains vitamin C to reduce pollution damage and hydrate the skin.
Vitamin B3 is an active skin-brightening agent, especially in combination with kojic acid and arbutin.
Ingredients in this skincare product that bleach the skin include GigaWhite™, SymWhite™, and Sepiwhite™.
These ingredients work for all skin types, and they don’t contain hydroquinone, parabens, or sulfates that harm your skin.
Related: Meladerm review.
How it Works
The kojic acid in the whitening cream prevents the formation of tyrosine, which then inhibits melanin production, causing dark spots to fade.
The alpha-arbutin in this skincare product inhibits pigmentation, which gives you lighter skin.
This combination of kojic acid and alpha-arbutin ensures healthy bleaching for the skin while minimizing your risk of irritation and other side effects.
The macronutrients in this product have an anti-aging effect, and they help to reduce the appearance of discoloration, sun damage, dark spots, and even birthmarks.
The natural ingredients in Meladerm’s formula make it one of the best skin-lightening creams available, as a gentler alternative to other skin-bleaching products.
How to Use It
Apply an even layer of Meladerm skin bleaching cream twice per day after washing and drying your facial skin.
Stay out of direct sunlight and use this product in combination with a broad-spectrum sunblock of SPF 30 or higher to prevent sun damage.
Avoid contact with your eyes, and don’t use this product if you are pregnant or nursing.
2 – Obagi Medical Nu-Derm Blend Fx
What Is It?
Obagi Medical Nu-Derm Blend Fx is a skincare product that is designed to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation, melasma, or sun damage.
It is part of the Obagi Medical Nu-Derm System, a comprehensive skincare regimen that aims to transform dull, damaged, or aging skin into a more youthful and radiant complexion.
Obagi is well known for being backed by science and innovation, and it shows in the ingredients it uses in the Nu-Derm Blend FX.
Arbutin is a natural skin-lightening agent that has been shown to be effective in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dark spots on the skin.
By inhibiting the activity of an enzyme that produces melanin in the skin, arbutin can help to even out skin tone and improve overall complexion.
This powerful ingredient not only lightens the skin but also works to promote a more youthful and radiant appearance.
It also makes use of glycerin, a powerful humectant that can work wonders for your skin.
By attracting and retaining water in the skin, it helps to maintain its natural moisture balance, leaving your skin feeling soft, supple, and hydrated.
Glycerin not only helps to moisturize the skin but also helps to improve its texture and appearance by promoting healthy skin cell turnover.
How it Works
The Obagi Nu-Derm Blend Fx is designed to work by lightening and brightening the skin, while also promoting healthy skin cell turnover with its exfoliating function.
Arbutin, antioxidants, and vitamins are just a few of the all-natural components in this cutting-edge composition that combine to provide noticeable results in no time.
How to Use It
The Nu-Derm Blend FX can be used on its own daily, or ideally, be used together with the Obagi Medical Nu-Derm Fx System, which I feel is the best way to do so as it contains all the necessary components of a good skincare regime.
To use the Blend FX, you first thoroughly cleanse and pat dry your skin. After that, dab a tiny amount of the cream onto your fingertips and use gentle circular motions to massage it into your face and neck, taking care to avoid your eyes.
While using this product, you should wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30, as it could make your skin more sensitive to the sun (due to the use of AHA).
3 – Admire My Skin Brightening Serum
What Is It?
The Admire My Skin brightening serum is a highly effective lightening cream that consists of skin-lightening agents and minerals to rejuvenate your skin.
The Admire My Skin brightening serum formula contains 2% hydroquinone and some of the best skin-lightening ingredients, including kojic acid.
The ingredients make this cream’s formula similar to that of our Paula’s Choice pick.
This serum also contains lactic acid, which contributes to reducing hyperpigmentation and delivering faster results.
This alpha-hydroxy acid has a few drawbacks, but it can be harsh on your skin.
However, if you don’t have sensitive skin and want faster results, it offers the ideal option.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C in this formula reduces wrinkles, promotes collagen production, and inhibits melanin formation in the skin to lighten dark spots.
Other ingredients include salicylic acid as an exfoliator and azelaic acid which kills acne-forming bacteria.
How it Works
Admire My Skin brightening serum blocks the discoloration process in your skin.
The active ingredient, hydroquinone, and kojic acid suppress melanin production, fading dark spots, and other conditions such as age spots, freckles, melasma, and acne scars.
You can also use this serum to treat other forms of hyperpigmentation, including post-inflammatory marks from eczema or psoriasis.
Salicylic acid helps your skin to shed the top layer of dead cells. This ingredient also alleviates some of the redness that hydroquinone may cause.
The Admire My Skin serum contains vitamin C, which protects your skin from UV exposure and evens out your skin tone.
How to Use It
Start by applying the cream to your face once every three days and increase the frequency of use over time.
After two weeks, you can start applying the cream once per day. Apply an SPF 30 sunblock to protect your skin against UV damage.
4 – Ebanel Dark Spot Remover
What Is It?
With the Dr. Brightening Ultra Potent Facial Serum, dark spots are no longer an issue anymore.
It was designed to help fade and reduce the appearance of dark spots, age spots, and hyperpigmentation on the skin.
I love that this product is so easy to use and can be applied to the affected areas of the face daily, helping you to achieve a more even and youthful-looking complexion.
One of the unique ingredients in this dark spot remover is Hexylresorcinol , also known as Synovea HR.
It is a skin-brightening agent, and it has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dark spots on the skin.
This ingredient works by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is responsible for the production of melanin, the pigment that gives color to our skin.
Another great ingredient is Glycolic acid, which is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sugar cane that penetrates the skin deeply to exfoliate dead skin cells, revealing smoother and more even-toned skin.
It can help to stimulate collagen production, and as we all know, this is crucial in helping us to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while also improving skin texture and tone.
However, glycolic acid can be irritating to some skin types and should be used with caution, starting with a low concentration and gradually increasing it over time.
It is also important to use sunscreen when using glycolic acid products to protect the skin from UV damage.
How it Works
The key thing here is that the blend of ingredients works together to provide ultra-targetted treatment to dark spots on our faces.
Several of them are well-known and proven to help lighten and brighten our skin, including 4-Butylresorcinol, Niacinamide, Arbutin, Kojic Acid, and Salicylic Acid.
How to Use It
As always, before using a new skincare product, perform a patch test first.
Once you’re cleared, use this just like most other facial products.
Ensure your skin is cleaned and dry, before applying a thin layer on the affected spots once a day.
After a week or two, you can increase the frequency to twice a day, but do stop if you encounter any side effects.
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Hyperpigmentation: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
You’ve probably heard of hydroquinone – the super-effective lightening chemical that also comes with some harsh side effects. Well, before subjecting your skin to that, check out the Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% from The Ordinary first. Research shows that azelaic acid creams can often be even more effective than hydroquinone at fading hyperpigmentation, making this a must-have in your skincare routine .
Designed to be used once or twice a day (we would recommend twice, especially for severe hyperpigmentation), this is a lightweight, gel-like cream that should start to produce results in just a few weeks.
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Black & Dark Skin: Scientis Cyspera Cysteamine Cream
Some skin lightening creams can actually make hyperpigmentation worse on dark skin tones, which is why we had to feature the Scientis Cyspera Cysteamine Cream. Cysteamine is a novel ingredient that you won’t find in any other cream. It has been proven to offer comparable results to hydroquinone , although it does take a little longer to work – clinical studies show results after eight weeks of daily use, with both light skin and dark skin benefiting from the ingredient.
Unlike the other skin lightening products we’ve featured on this list, this cream isn’t one that you can leave on your skin. Instead, apply it, wait for 15 minutes, and then rinse it off. Don’t be tempted to leave it on for longer as this can lead to skin sensitivities.
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Melasma: SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector
Melasma can be a tricky condition to treat, but the Advanced Pigment Corrector from SkinCeuticals will help to drastically speed this process along. Designed for all skin types, this cream contains a few intriguing ingredients, from 0.3% salicylic acid to exfoliate away discolored surface skin cells to 1% hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid, which is a non-toxic hydroquinone derivative that has powerful lightening qualities.
Clinical studies show that this lightweight cream is capable of lightening melasma in 12 weeks. If possible, use it twice daily, following up with sunscreen in the morning (UV rays will interfere with how effective this treatment is).
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Dark Spots: Ambi Fade Cream
Got a few stubborn dark spots that aren’t responding to any of the active ingredients we’ve already featured? If that’s the case, you need to give the Ambi Fade Cream a try. Designed for normal skin types, this formula contains 2% hydroquinone, which is the highest concentration allowed in an over-the-counter product.
This cream also contains vitamin E to soothe and moisturize, lactic acid to gently exfoliate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate (aka a highly stable and effective form of vitamin C) for extra brightening effects. You should start to see improvements in your dark spots in just two weeks.
Best Skin Lightening Cream for Acne Scars: Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment
Acne scars are double trouble – not only do they leave you with areas of discoloration, but they can affect the texture of your skin too, meaning that the best product out there will be one that can treat both of these issues. This is where the Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment comes in – it has been proven to reduce the size, depth, and discoloration of acne scars in just eight weeks.
These results are down to its potent formula, which features salicylic acid, centella asiatica, and vitamins C and E. You’ll also find a few light-diffusing ingredients in this lightweight cream – these will instantly blur the appearance of your acne scars, making them temporarily less visible. Use this treatment regularly and those temporary effects will soon become permanent.
Skin Lightening Cream Buyer’s Guide
When shopping for one perfect product for you out of the best skin lightening creams, you can’t just consider its skin-lightening effects. You also need to maintain optimal skin health.
Abrasive products containing harsh chemicals may lighten dark spots but cause irritation, dryness, redness, and other harmful skin conditions.
By selecting a product with nourishing ingredients and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, your skin will look better than ever.
The Healthiest Ingredients for Skin Lightening
The best skin lightening ingredients are completely free from mercury and rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Look for products containing vitamins A, C, and E. The healthiest skin brightening formulas include kojic acid, strawberry, lemon, and licorice extract, and vitamin C.
Hydroquinone is not inherently harmful, but it can be abrasive if you have sensitive skin. However, if you have a normal or oily skin type, you probably won’t see side effects like dryness or irritation.
The best skin lightening creams will contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide that protect your skin against damage from pollutants and the sun’s UV rays.
Getting Faster Results
The best skin lightening creams do not necessarily deliver the fastest results. However, they do inhibit melanin production in the long run while providing your skin with the nutrients it needs.
If you’re going to an event, like a wedding or a party, and want to brighten your skin and get rid of spots for the occasion, you may look for a cream that will make them disappearin the shortest time possible.
In these cases, select a cream containing hydroquinone or sodium lactate.
Secondly, make lifestyle changes to promote skin health.
Thirdly, protect your skin from the sun, as UV rays can cause darkening, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. You can also check out our buyers guide on the best anti-aging creams.
Exercise and Follow a Healthy Diet
When you exercise, you improve blood circulation, which increases the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the skin.
It also promotes collagen production, which will enhance your skin tone and give your facial skin a healthy appearance.
Your diet should include fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants and nuts and fish to give your body healthy fats.
By increasing your intake of nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamins E and C, selenium, and zinc, you will promote skin health and optimize the effect of your skin lightening cream.
Drinking enough water will not directly result in lighter skin, but it will promote your skin cells’ optimal functioning.
If your cells do not get enough water, your skin becomes tight, dry, and flaky, which increases your risk of irritation and redness.
You can also hydrate your skin with a moisturizing agent. The best skin lightening creams contain vitamin C, which promotes skin hydration.
Get Enough Sleep
When you sleep, your cortisol levels drop, which helps your skin repair daytime damage.
Your body also produces collagen, a protein that increases blood flow to the skin to improve elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and give your face a healthy, radiant glow.
A healthy sleep schedule enables your skin to benefit more from your lightening cream, and you may even see faster results.
Exfoliation, or the removal of dead skin cells, should go hand-in-hand with your skin lightening treatment. Lightening creams containing glycolic acid or salicylic acid have inherent exfoliation qualities.
Exfoliation helps your lightening creams penetrate deeper into your skin and prevents acne. By exfoliating your skin, you also break down dry skin, giving it a smooth texture and uniform appearance.
In Conclusion: Buy The Best Skin Lightening Cream Today
Lightening blemishes such as acne scars, freckles, sun damage, and marks from psoriasis can go a long way to give your facial skin a healthy appearance.
With the creams in this review guide, you can lighten your skin in record time and with minimal effort while avoiding expensive treatments.
Select a skin lightening cream from our list and start seeing skin that makes you feel confident and look radiant within a few weeks.